The number of people who attended Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) in the first three months of 2016 is lower than it was over the same period last year.
Newly published Ministry of Justice figures have revealed that between January and March only 3,384 MIAMs were held. This represents a 14 per cent drop in comparison to the first quarter of 2015.
Since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) was enacted in April 2013, the number of MIAMs held has stabilised at roughly half the previous levels, despite fluctuations quarter to quarter.
When the then coalition government introduced LASPO, greatly reducing the availability of legal aid in family law disputes, they claimed it would encourage more people to try and resolve their legal issues out of court. But Nigel Shepherd, chair of family law organisation Resolution, said the latest figures “tell a very clear story: the government’s strategy is not working”.
The fall in MIAMs shows that “fewer people are getting help to resolve matters out of court, contrary to the government’s stated objectives”, he added. Not only are there fewer cases of people attending a MIAM, he said that couples are less likely to reach an agreement if they eventually move on to mediation. The number of successful cases of mediation is 62 per cent of what it was before LASPO was enacted.
Earlier this year, the organisation National Family Mediation revealed that as little as one in every 20 family law disputes is preceded by a MIAM. Even though MIAMs became compulsory in April 2014, fewer than 5,000 were held between then and 2015. Meanwhile, there were 112,000 disputes taken directly to court over the same time period.
Read the full Ministry of Justice statistics here.